The most Popular Posts of the past seven days.

Jun 3, 2020

Montgomery Civilian Review Board

From a tweet by Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed
"City officials are planning to meet with community activists and leaders in response to their requests to create a citizens review board. This comes as part of the ongoing dialogue on how to enhance interactions and trust between citizens and police.

Police generally hate the very idea of civilian review boards. Expect a lot of pushback.

Homeowner Concern

     Homeowners cringe in Montgomery and elsewhere when a nearby house suddenly has its windows and doors boarded up with plywood.

      It is an indication that the house has been condemned.

That's what's happened this week to a 120 year old Garden District home at 398 Felder Street, at the intersection with Norman Bridge Road.

      Work had been underway on the two story single family home---off and on by various owners--- for more than a decade.  But the plywood only showed up on the doors and windows in recent days.
There's also a yellow condemnation notice.

The house is in the Historic Garden District, which limits what the owners can and can not do with the property.

There's a historic plaque dating the house to 1900, and calling it The Baldwin House. It is on a large piece of property, 36050sq ft.
    I was told a story about the house years ago, indicating that a man had built it for his daughters, though he feared they would not be safe because the building was so far away from the city!  Whomever told me that story may have confused it with the Four sisters homes, also in the Garden District, built by Dr. W.O. Baldwin.
      The Felder Avenue property is now owned by a South Florida man, Sam Sewell, who tells me he has a construction loan and hopes to have the house restored by Thanksgiving, less than six months from now.
     Until recently, the house was only barely visible from Norman Bridge because of tree and weed growth. The city posted a notice on the property earlier in last month, ordering the owner to clear the overgrowth.

     On Tuesday, June 2nd, a crew used a bulldozer to remedy that problem by pulling up everything growing on the property line along Felder Avenue and Norman Bridge Road.

(photo contributed)

 Owner Sewell says the grading work will take care of another problem with the old house...a basement that flooded.


The house is right at the entryway to the Historic Garden District Neighborhood.

Opinion: A Kay Ivey Reminder: Protestors + "politically correct nonsence"

 What does Governor Ivey think about the confederate monument issue now

Don't know, other than this statement:

"...we will not allow our cities to become a target for those, especially from other states, who choose to use violence and destruction to make their point. What I saw happen last night in Birmingham was unbecoming of all those who have worked to make Birmingham the great city it is.  Going forward, this cannot be tolerated. State assets are available to any local government that makes the request. We will show respect to ourselves and to each other through this process.”

But let's remember: Ivey signed the confederate monument protection legislation into law, and bragged about it in her 2018 election campaign ad:

"In the 30-second ad, the camera pans around a memorial to fallen Confederate soldiers outside the state Capitol building and a mural of black heroes by a county courthouse. Ivey slams Washington D.C.’s “politically correct nonsense” and says that when “special interests” wanted to tear down monuments, she said no and signed a law to protect them. She continues that “we can’t change or erase our history” and Alabama understands “to get where we’re going means understanding where we’ve been.” (AP Story)

I'm confident black Alabama residents don't consider themselves "special interests", and if you look at the faces of those trying to tear down the Linn Park monument this week, there are plenty of white faces. The African-American protesters especially know very well "where we have been", and have had the mostly 1960's- installed monuments in their faces for decades to remind them. 

Is their desire to finally rid the state of those in-your-face reminders "politically correct nonsense, Governor? Or is that only some unnamed people in Washington?

Jun 2, 2020

Huge Confederate Flags taken down

A huge confederate flag long Interstate 4 and 75 in Florida has been taken down:

“We do not want to be a target. We do not want to provide any incentive for people to break the law," David McCallister of the Sons on Confederate Veterans told the CBS Station in Tampa, WTSP. “We are behind law enforcement and first responders. We deplore the destruction of private and public property.”

And there are reports the same thing has happened to the similar flag along I-65 near Verbena, Alabama.
It was installed 15 years ago. 

Jun 1, 2020

Episcopal Bishop Seethes Over Trump Visit

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop,” Budde said.

She excoriated the president for standing in front of the church — its windows boarded up with plywood — holding up a Bible, which Budde said “declares that God is love.”
“Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” Budde of the president. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”
                                                                                               Right Rev. Mariann Budde


More About the monument

(Photo courtesy ABC 33-40)

     Just as with many of the Confederate monuments, the one attacked last night wasn't even installed till 1905. 
     Many others were put in place in the 1960's during the Civil Rights Movement.
    The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center argued against the (R) Rep. Gerald Allen sponsored law protecting them:

"The Alabama Legislature should never have passed a law banning the removal of these symbols which represent the oppression of an entire race. Gov. Kay Ivey should never have signed it. If the leaders of Birmingham - a city forever linked to the civil rights movement - believe such monuments do not represent their city's values, they should have the ability to remove them. This law demonstrates that white supremacy and hate prevail in Alabama. It will continue to force people of color to live and work in communities where they remain in the shadow of the Confederacy."

On Day One of Hurricane Season: Golden Ray Update

"The fourth of 28 sections of environmental protection barrier netting was installed by St. Simons Sound Incident Response workers around the motor vessel Golden Ray in St. Simon’s Sound, Georgia, May 29, 2020. Made from soft, high-strength polyester straps sewn on a five-foot by five-foot grid, each custom-assembled panel ranges from 35 to 65 feet in height depending upon the depth to the seafloor, where it is weighted with heavy chain. The nets extend upward from the seabed and rise to above the water’s surface to catch potential debris from the ship’s removal while allowing marine life to swim safely through." Photo by Jaime Sanchez-Perez

The plan is to cut the ship into eight sections, lift each onto a barge, and carry them off for recycling or disposal. The process will be well into Hurricane Season by the time the first slice is made. There are still several thousand brand new but ruined cars on the ship.

Kay Ivey About Attempted Destruction of the 1905 Monument: (silence)

Here's the latest statement from Ivey:

"...we will not allow our cities to become a target for those, especially from other states, who choose to use violence and destruction to make their point.  What I saw happen last night in Birmingham was unbecoming of all those who have worked to make Birmingham the great city it is.  Going forward, this cannot be tolerated. State assets are available to any local government that makes the request. We will show respect to ourselves and to each other through this process.”
 Complete statement HERE.

     Not a word about the confederate monument in Linn park, which she used the power of her office to keep in place in the majority black city of Birmingham. She even used her defense of it as a bragging point in an election ad. 

PLUS: "However, we will not allow our cities to become a target for those, especially from other states, who choose to use violence and destruction to make their point."

What a bizarre distinction to make! 
Will she have special courts and jails for out-of-state residents?

From the White House in a call with the Governors:
You have to dominate," the president said. "If you don't dominate, you're wasting your time."
       How will Ivey dominate here in Alabama?
     I don't know if Ivey was on the call with the president...and they press office did not immediately return my call asking if she did take part.   
     While local government Public Information people have been most cooperative in getting information for me, the Governor apparently does not recognize my work on this 13+ year old website as legitimate media. They ignore my requests.
     WBRC in Birmingham reported Ivey would be on the call.

Radio Blackout: Will Montgomery Radio Stations Join in?

Music Industry Calling for a 'Blackout' in Response to George Floyd's Death

From Billboard Magazine:

The music industry is calling for a "Blackout Tuesday" in response to the death of George Floyd.
...numerous music companies and artists began spreading a message on social media calling for “a day to disconnect from work and reconnect with out community" and “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.”

MiLB: A Season, or No Season?

Montgomery Biscuits play at Riverside Stadium, if there is a 2020 season.

Forbes column by Sholmo Spring overnight:

"...the window for an agreement between owners and players to get teams ready for a July 4 season opener is quickly closing. As each day passes, it’s looking less likely that we’ll have Major League Baseball in 2020. For Minor League Baseball, that moment may have already passed. Now all we can do is wait for the official word."

May 31, 2020

Your Move, Governor Ivey.

So the Democratic Birmingham Mayor asked the protestors to "give him 24 hours"...after they tried to pull down the confederate monument in Linn Park in downtown. The crowd more or less went along.

Question: The city wanted to take the monument down last year. The only reason the statue is still standing is Republican Governor Kay Ivey, who ran for election with an ad boasting about her support for the law protecting those monuments. She fought the city and won an order blocking Birmingham from doing so.

With all that has happened in the past week, will she STILL take that stand and block the city from removing the monument?

Like Client, Like Lawyer

Rudy Giuliani tweet quoted in the N.Y. Times:

“Keep track of cities where hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage and serious injuries and death will take place,” Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who has served as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, wrote on Twitter on Friday night. “All Democrat dominated cities with criminal friendly policies. This is the future if you elect Democrats.”

Does that mean NOW is the future since you elected Republicans?

Proposed: Don't Call The Police

"As the case of George Floyd makes clear, calling 911 for even the slightest thing can be a death sentence for black people. For many marginalized communities, 911 is not a viable option because the police often make crises worse. These same communities, who often need emergency services the most, are forced to make do without the help."
                                                                           From a column in today's N.Y. Times

(CORRECTION!!) Montgomery (not Birmingham) residents in the 1960's

     I'm trying to answer a question about Montgomery. 
    A discount department store of some kind in that city had a huge Santa built and installed outside to attract Christmas shoppers in the mid 1960's.

      It may have helped their Christmas sales, but the store closed some time later anyway.

     The Santa was then moved to Panama City Florida where----after they  painted his beard black, chopped off one of his hands to make way for a hook, and added a new hat and an eye patch--- he became a pirate at the entrance to Petticoat Junction, an amusement park in that city.

      All of that information comes from a book by prolific Birmingham writer Tim Hollis:

Florida's Miracle Strip: From Redneck Riviera to Emerald Coast

...but even he doesn't know the name of the store in Montgomery that was home to the Santa
 He writes:

"I got that info from the Churchwells who owned Petticoat Jct, but even they didn't know the name of the store when they told me about it."
And that's what I'm trying  to find out---plus any photos of of the Santa/Pirate.

Here's a photo of the Pirate in Florida, before they added the hook to replace his left hand.

     Were you living in Montgomery in the mid 1960's? Do you remember a store with the giant Santa outside? Any photos? I've promised to help Tim Hollis with his search. Can you help me help him?

Southern Baptists Grieve for George Floyd?

From a story on

Why am I surprised to see this support for the protests? (Or am I reading too much into their statement?)
Isn't the only reason there ARE  Southern Baptists is the split over slavery, with the ones on the Southern side of the equation supporting it, and fighting against civil rights? 
Nonetheless, here's a key part of their statement:

"While all must grieve, we understand that in the hearts of our fellow citizens of color, incidents like these connect to a long history of unequal justice in our country, going back to the grievous Jim Crow and slavery eras. The images and information we have available to us in this case are horrific and remind us that there is much more work to be done to ensure that there is not even a hint of racial inequity in the distribution of justice in our country. We grieve to see examples of the misuse of force, and call for these issues to be addressed with speed and justice."

"...Therefore, as a matter of Christian obedience and devotion, followers of Jesus Christ cannot remain silent when our brothers and sisters, friends and/or people we seek to win for Christ are mistreated, abused or killed unnecessarily."

Read the whole story HERE.

And HERE is an interesting article by PEW about Southern Baptists.

May 30, 2020

MEDIA: 1+1 = T

    On the same day that police in Minneapolis (1) arrested a CNN reporter and crew as they were broadcasting LIVE from the scene of protests against police, an officer in Louisville (2) fired pepper balls at a TV crew that was also broadcasting:

As WAVE-TV was on air, reporter Kaitlin Rust is heard yelling off-camera: “I've been shot! I've been shot!" Video shows a police officer aiming directly at the camera crew, as Rust describes the projectiles as “pepper bullets.”

     ( =3 )President Trump has made the media a target, even encouraging crowds at his rallies to attack reporters.

Police Shooting Protest in Montgomery

     On the steps in Montgomery Alabama that have been the scene of hundreds of protests, about 200 people gathered to be a part of the nationwide demonstrations against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

     The Montgomery protest was peaceful, and the only guns I saw were on the police who blocked off traffic on Dexter Avenue. The protestors chanted "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice for George", the black man who died after an officer kneeled on his neck for nine minutes, ignoring his complains about not being able to breathe.


Can Anything Save Alabama's Most Endangered Historic Site?

     The Searcy Mental Hospital near Fort Deposit Alabama was named one of the most significant endangered Historic site in America by The National Trust for Historic Preservation one year ago today.
     The property was the site of one of 13 U.S. Army Arsenals in 1828!
     Geronimo was "kept" there in the 1880's before he and other Native Americans were sent on what became known as the "Trail of Tears to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he died."
     It was established as the location of a mental hospital in 1902. It was called the Mount Vernon Hospital for the Colored Insane. Till the 1970's in Alabama, anyone could have another person committed to the facility. Imagine the times that happened to black Alabamians who had no mental illness!

Here's the full list of endangered sites for 2019:
The 2019 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):
  • Ancestral Places of Southeast Utah. Located between two national monuments—Bears Ears and Canyons of the Ancients—this area of Southeast Utah is one of the most culturally rich but imperiled landscapes in America. If left unprotected, thousands of irreplaceable artifacts—some dating back 8,000 years—would remain threatened by the damaging impacts of oil and gas extraction.
  • Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge. Bismarck, ND. Built in 1883 using state-of-the-art construction methods, the majestic rail bridge was the first to span the Upper Missouri River. Rather than demolish the bridge as proposed, advocates believe this treasured landmark could be retained and reused as a pedestrian bridge.
  • The Excelsior Club. Charlotte, NC. A leading private social club for African Americans in the Southeast and a noted Green Book site since it opened in 1944, the club once hosted luminaries like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong, but now needs significant repairs and could be lost unless new owners are found.
  • Hacienda Los Torres. Lares, Puerto Rico. Built in 1846 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Hacienda Los Torres helps tell the history of economic development, class conflict, and political struggle in Puerto Rico. Built at the height of Puerto Rico's flourishing coffee industry, the structure embodies architectural characteristics, materials, and craftsmanship of Puerto Rico's 19th-century coffee haciendas.
  • Industrial Trust Company Building. Providence, RI. Dubbed the “Superman Building” due to its resemblance to the Daily Planet building from Superman comics, the iconic Art Deco tower—Rhode Island’s tallest—has been vacant for six years and has no current rehabilitation plans.
  • James R. Thompson Center. Chicago, Ill. Chicago’s foremost example of grandly scaled Postmodernism, the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center—the ‘youngest’ building ever to appear on this list—is threatened by a sale that could lead to its demolition.
  • Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital, Mount Vernon, Ala. Continually occupied and in use for over 200 years—as an arsenal, a prison, and later a mental hospital for African Americans—this complex closed in 2012 and currently sits vacant and awaiting preservation and reuse plans.
  • Nashville’s Music Row. Nashville, Tenn. This district of late-19th-century homes and small-scale commercial buildings contains more than 200 music-related businesses that have produced chart-topping recordings in multiple genres for generations. Nashville’s booming economy and Music Row’s proximity to downtown have made it a hot market for new development, resulting in 50 demolitions since 2013 and threatening the sustainability and survival of the heart and soul of Music City.
  • National Mall Tidal Basin. Washington, D.C. The millions of tourists who throng to “America’s Front Yard” every year may not realize that it’s threatened by rising sea levels, unstable sea walls, and outdated infrastructure. It’s estimated that as much as $500 million is needed to upgrade and maintain one of the most popular and visited sites in the National Park System.
  • Tenth Street Historic District. Dallas, Texas. One of the rare remaining Freedmen’s towns in America, this vital piece of Lone Star State history is being eroded by large numbers of demolitions.
  • Willert Park Courts. Buffalo, NY. The first public housing project in New York State made available to African American residents and a notable example of Modern design, the historic complex is currently vacant and deteriorating but could be revitalized as much-needed affordable housing.

     Last November 22nd, I was given a tour of the site by two people who know it well. The facility's former police chief, David Robinson, and the ADMH's historian, Steve Davis. Many of the buildings are in such a state of decay that one has to wonder if it can be saved at all. 



The Mortuary at the Searcy Mental Hospital complex, where  bodies of deceased patients were brought.

     There are two cemeteries on the property. It is estimated two thousand people are buried in them, people who's families did not claim the bodies.

Some bottled chemicals remain in the mortuary
The church at Searcy, built with private funds.

 Geronimo, on the far right, at the U.S. Army arsenal in the 1880's.

The basement room where Geronimo lived in Alabama.

      Geronimo and other Native Americans at the arsenal site in the late 1800's were eventually sent to Oklahoma in what became the Trail of Tears. Geronimo died at Fort Sill.

The chapel at Searcy Mental Hospital.
Searcy was closed on Halloween in 2012.
There is already security on the property, but it is increased each year around that holiday because of the nature of the ruins.